Jigsaw your way to Collaboration with Socrative

Collaborative learning has many benefits:

  • Develops higher level thinking skills
  • Builds self-esteem in students
  • Improves oral communication skills
  • Enhances student satisfaction with the learning experience

Puzzle PiecesYet fear of losing classroom control and creating gaps in content coverage can often cause teachers to back off and resort to a didactic teacher led approach.
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1 – 2 – 3 – Word Cloud!

Word Clouds (wordle to most) can be a dynamic tool for visualizing text and for presenting a group’s thinking. They are AMAZING! 

wordle 21st century

While planning for the Future of Learning conference at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, I wanted to capture and share our participants’ views on “What are the key features of 21st Century Learning”. At first, word clouds didn’t cross my mind because in past experiences I had entered a historical speech, lecture notes or asynchronously generated google docs.  All these use cases would be ineffective for our needs.  But then it dawned on me, Socrative could aggregate our real-time responses.  Of course!

Here’s the system.

1. Identify a question which will generate responses for your particular needs.*

  • What are the key features of 21st century learning? (reflected in the above word cloud)
  • Which vocabulary words are giving you difficulty?
  • List 5 key words from the chapter you just read.
  • What 3 adjectives best describe this sculpture?
  • What are synonyms and antonyms of _______?

* have students answer in all lower case so there is consistency in the word cloud.


2. Initiate a Short Answer or Quiz.

  • A Short Answer question’s responses will populate your teacher screen.  
  • A Quiz may include many questions and the results will be available to view as a googledoc or an emailed Excel file.


3. Highlight all the answers and copy them.

  • Short Answer – highlight and copy the responses on the teacher screen.
  • Quiz – highlight and copy the column of the question you want to visualize.


4. Paste into a Word Cloud maker

  • Wordle  – The most well-known word cloud tool.  It’s easy to use and quickly adaptable to help you find the colors, fonts, sizes and arrangements to suit your taste.
  • Tagxedo – Tagxedo allows users to create clouds in various forms, such as Abe Lincoln’s head, triangles or the outlines of countries.
  • Wordsift – You can further highlight words by subjects such as social studies or science.  Developed as an ELL resource at Stanford.
  • ABCya! – Word clouds for kids!
  • Word Collage – an App for iPads


Share your ideas!

The 5Ws and H – Questions, Questions, Questions!


The infamous 5Ws and H have been an integral part of journalism, storytelling and an uncountable number of TV police dramas, (Law and Order being the best, of course).  

5Ws and H Table

Additionally, for years this structure has been helping students ask targeted questions as they dig deeper into factual information and uncover truths.  In the 21st century, this routine is more versatile and as important as ever. It’s at the core of problem solving in the office place, evaluating what’s what in cyberspace, and identifying causal relationships.

Whether an ELL teacher or a physics teacher, you’ll encounter numerous opportunities to cultivate your students’ abilities to mine for information, make sense of it, and then arrive at conclusions. So let’s support the development and acquisition of these cross-disciplinary skills through whole class discussion, practice and guided examples.

Build Understanding as a Class – Implementation Ideas


Use the Short Answer and Multiple Choice features to ask questions of the whole class and deconstruct each W and H together. Have students respond in complete sentences and then collaboratively decide which answers are the best and discuss why. 

Use the Short Answer Voting Feature to narrow the class’ choices and focus on reasoning. Ask students why they like their choices and identify the key criteria in a student defined rubric.  Continue the discussion into the other components of the routine.  

Create 2 to 3 question Quizzes for post reading assignments, experiments and research. Ask for different components of the routine each time as you put the 6 pieces together over time.  These can be either multiple choice, short response or a combination of the two. Have students work in small groups or pairs and discuss their choices.

Design a 5Ws and H quiz for easy and frequent use to check understanding and create discussion.

Reminder: How to make your own “Quiz” activity

Log into your account -> Click “Manage Quizzes” -> “Create a Quiz

Design the Quiz and select Save & Exit

The Quiz will now be available in your My Quizzes menu.

Share the SOC # with your community


3 Engaging Uses of Open Response Questioning

Short Answer

One of our favorite features is Quick Question – Short Answer.  With a few quick clicks, you can use short answer to ask a question, then gather, visualize and discuss a whole class’s open responses.  You could even have students VOTE on the responses!  

1. Gather Student Questions:

As students settle into their seats have them enter a question based on last night’s homework or your current unit.  You can quickly clear up any misunderstanding before moving on to that day’s agenda. By enabling each student to respond, you can see common questions that are applicable to a larger number of students. Use the VOTE feature to have them prioritize what you answer!

Remember – student questions project anonymously, but you can toggle on “show name” and also have a report afterward which tells who said what.  Overall, students are less fearful of asking a question anonymously.

This is also a great tool to use at the end of class. As students start to pack up, open a short answer to gather any points of confusion to incorporate into your plan for the next day, or ask a question based on that day’s content to see what your students have learned!

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 11.01.24 AM

2. Vocabulary

In every class, there are key vocabulary items that students need to master. Pose a vocabulary word in short answer and ask students to use that word in a sentence, or respond with the definition. Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 11.17.36 AM

3. Foreign Language

There are multiple ways to allow students to show their understanding in a second language classroom.

– Present students with a sentence and ask them to translate

– Present students with a sentence and ask them to write a follow-on sentence

– Have students use a key vocabulary term in a sentence (verbs, nouns, adjectives etc.)


How Quick Question – Short Answer Works:

1. From your Teacher Dashboard select “Quick Question”

2. Select the “Short Answer” on the right

3. Type a Question into the text field (optional)

4. Choose whether you would like a SINGLE or UNLIMITED responses from your Students

5. Choose whether you would like students to be ANONYMOUS or REQUIRE their name. (Either way, all responses initially display on your screen anonymously)  

6. Select start!

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 12.19.13 PM

In Defense of Multiple Choice


The value of multiple-choice in education has been a topic of debate since its invention in the beginning of the 20th century. Initially, the US army constructed this type of assessment as a means for determining intelligence for recruitment (Ramirez, 2013).  Provided this social validity, the test quickly spread to education and industry sectors, such as the SAT (Ramirez, 2013).  At this time, education mocked the industrial “factory model”, based on standardization and strict learning schedules.

In recent years, however, there has been a shift in the education model, contingent upon active and personal participation in our globalized society. Due to the invention of the world-wide-web and new technologies that utilize it, individuals have gained autonomy, instant communication, access to a plethora of information at their fingertips, and the ability to track all types of information and data. As a result, there has been a drive towards implementing constructivist practices within the classroom, where students gain greater agency to create their own knowledge when learning and working with peers.

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How to Create Valuable Multiple Choice Questions


Multiple-choice questions can be a useful teaching and assessment tool, whether aiding class discussions or testing content on an exam. Teachers have been using this method of assessment for decades, whether verbally, on paper, or more recently through technology such as the real-time assessment system, Socrative.

However, writing multiple-choice questions that test the anticipated content with a certain level of difficulty and understanding for the student is often more challenging than it may seem. It is important to understand the types of questions that exist, reliable rules for writing them, and how to use them to understand learning behavior.

Types of Questions

1. Recall information: Test understanding of factual knowledge, such as definition or association.

Example: What is a verb?

2. Understand concepts: Draw upon facts in context of what is being learned.

Example: Which of the words in the following sentence is a verb: Susan walked to the grocery store.

3. Apply knowledge: Give students a scenario, often linked to a real-world outcome.

Example: Sam is writing about his ski vacation with his family. This vacation happened one month ago. Which is a correct form of the word “to ski” for his paragraph?

4. Analyze Information: Students reflect on patterns and relationships within the content.

Example: Consider the verbs in the following sentence: Mike ran to the store. 

In what form would you use the word “to call” in order to represent that Mike made a call before he went to the store.

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Week 1 – A Quick Activity to Help Students Learn about their School


There’s always something new at the start of the school year, class rules, whether it is a new freshman class, a new administrator, or a classroom change. Both teachers and students need to get familiar with these changes fast.

In Mr. Roberts’ homeroom, Socrative quizzes with images do the trick.

Who’s who? What’s what?:

Make a Multiple Choice Socrative quiz consisting of questions such as:

1. Who is (insert picture of new staff member or school leader)?

2. Where is the new science room?

3. Who do you ask about your technology questions?

4. Where do you find the lunch schedule?

5. Who is (insert a picture of the maintenance person)?

6. What is our policy on X?

Mr. Roberts runs the activity as a Teacher Paced quiz so he can monitor the student responses, project them for all, and correct any misconceptions. Don’t be surprised if the activity triggers lots of questions!

How do you creatively use Socrative?

Just in Time! – Thinking Routines Templates


Choose-Your-Own-AdventureWhile putting the “final touches” on a lesson plan, I was struck with a decision about the class ending activity. I know students will have questions and concerns about the readings and projects.  I wanted the freedom and flexibility to choose the culminating activity in the moment.  What could I do?
I imported all 3 thinking routines into Socrative, and then allowed myself to choose the culminating activity in the moment.  It was a very freeing feeling to know I was prepared for a great class, and still able to be responsive to the day’s flow and demands.


Here are the 3 Thinking Routines – Import the templates using the SOC #s or create your own. (Click here to learn how to import activities)

Thinking Routine: I Used to Think…, But Now I think...   SOC-17616

Purpose: “This routine helps students to reflect on their thinking about a topic or issue and explore how and why that thinking has changed. It can be useful in consolidating new learning as students identify their new understandings, opinions, and beliefs. By examining and explaining how and why their thinking has changed, students are developing their reasoning abilities and recognizing cause and effect relationships.”  (Project Zero)

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See, Think, Wonder – Making Thinking Visible


Harvard’s Project Zero has created learning routines based on research, helping teachers garner a more thorough thinking process from students. See, Think, Wonder, is one such routine that engages students in visual multimedia such as pictures or videos.

Design an Image based quiz focussing on these 3 questions:

1. What do you see?

2. What do you think about that?

3. What does it make you wonder?

Students draw from their own unique perspective, inviting curiosity from their peers. Depending on the teaching need, a single student may answer all three questions at once in a Student Paced Quiz, or the class may work together through the Teacher Paced Quiz option to answer and discuss questions one at a time.

Learn more at www.visiblethinkingpz.org


Space Race vs. Other Classrooms and Schools!


Space Race 9 Rockets

We all know the fun of having a Space Race in your own class.

How about:

A Space Race against other classes within your school?

A Space Race against classes in the US?

A Space race against classes all over the world?


It’s quite simple! Here’s how:

1. Identify your competition and pick a date and time for the showdown!

Tip: Find other teachers within your PLN to Race

2. Co-construct an assessment and create it in Socrative

Tip: Enable sharing so each teacher can also import a copy using a SOC-#

3. Choose a screen sharing site

Tip: Google Hangouts and Skype work great!

4. Login in to your Socrative Account and the screen sharing site

5. Share your Socrative room number and screen sharing link

Tip: All classrooms can now view your Socrative screen in their own schools!

6. Have classrooms login in with 1 or more devices

Tip: 20 possible rockets across all classrooms

7. Select Space Race, Quiz and the number of teams

Tip: Choose a time limit if you want the furthest to win and not the fastest

8. GO!!!!!!!!! 

Tip: Take a final screenshot, Email the report to your colleagues and/or project it live on the screen!